This Thanksgiving will be a special one for Ashley Park. The Tony Award-nominated actress, who became known to a wider audience in Netflix's Emily in Paris, tells InStyle that most of the Thanksgivings she's had as an adult have been spent performing shows on Broadway — but this year, things are looking a little different.
"I'm actually really excited to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year," she says. "What's so funny about the theater world is that it's usually our busiest time, the holidays, so Friendsgivings mean a lot to me because that's usually what I end up doing in New York. In the last couple of years as well, being able to gather with friends means so much more."
Given that Park redefined the term "scene stealer" as the titular Emily's best friend, Mindy Chen, in Emily in Paris, it seems only appropriate that she's teamed up with Ketel One Botanical to curate the ultimate Friendsgiving hosting bundle, complete with her favorite spirits.
While Park says her apartment is "definitely not the size that I'd want it to be to host a Friendsgiving," she finds herself being the organizing arm of her friends' gatherings, showing up early, coordinating who's bringing what, and where to buy the turkey.
"What I'm going to probably end up doing for any Friendsgiving that I am a part of is, my contribution will be bringing the Ketel One Botanical," she says. "I love their Peach & Orange Blossom, the Cucumber & Mint, and the Grapefruit & Rose. It's a nice cleansing palette of flavors too, which is actually what we really need."
On the heels of Thanksgiving this year will come Emily in Paris season 2, which debuts just before Christmas. Park calls the second season "bigger and better" than the last, adding that the cast wasn't able to process the global success of the show until they reunited in France to film. Ahead of the new season, Park teased new developments for her character, who ends up moving in with Lily Collins's Emily.
"What's the most fun is that you really get to see a very genuine and real sort of roommate relationship," she says. "Emily and Mindy were so close and supportive in a way that when you share a home with someone, they really start to share their hearts with each other. I was so pleasantly surprised that they've given Mindy a beautiful, romantic storyline and personal journey, and you really see Emily's growth and being there for Mindy as well. I was obviously so excited to do more music and just getting to be in those fittings again, getting to pick out those outfits and really understanding who our characters were."
For Park, it was exciting to see the writers allow for Mindy to be a full spectrum of a character — "to really see her and her times of being vulnerable, and not being confident, and what that means."
"It becomes a story of not just how Emily is navigating through her life in Paris, but Mindy as well, and how they're doing that together and how they both enhance each other's journeys," she says. "Some of those conversations that Mindy and Emily had were very reflective of conversations that me and Lily have as friends. Being like, 'what do you want?' and 'don't worry about making other people happy,' and really figuring out what we want as women in the world right now."
"I think greatly about the partnerships that I want to consider," Park adds. "In the same way that Emily in Paris was just this breath of fresh air and brightness and joy, I really felt [the same about] the messaging and the family legacy of Ketel One Botanical. [They bring] out flavors and modern freshness and glow with their drinks, and it feels very aligned with Emily in Paris as a project."
Up next, the actress is starring in an as-yet untitled R-rated comedy from Crazy Rich Asians writer Adele Lim, a project Park says is "the first movie of its kind," thanks to its Asian female-led cast and Asian writers and director. The film, along with Park's other forthcoming projects (including Bridgerton-esque period rom-com Mr. Malcolm's List) have been a way for her to use her trademark joy as a form of revolution amid a year plus of rising attacks against Asian Americans, something she's been outspoken about.
"All those things coming out of a place of fear and acts of hate always come from a place of fear," she says. "The more that we can have Asian faces in places of joy and widespread as protagonists in stories will make us seem will help with the messaging that Asians aren't outsiders. They're not encroachers, and they're part of the fabric of life."
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